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Lyr ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh

DigiTrad:
BARD OF ARMAGH


Lighter 11 May 24 - 08:48 AM
Richard Mellish 11 May 24 - 03:41 AM
Lighter 09 May 24 - 09:35 AM
GUEST,Steve Shaw 09 May 24 - 06:18 AM
GUEST 09 May 24 - 04:26 AM
Steve Shaw 01 Feb 22 - 06:40 AM
RandyL 01 Feb 22 - 01:07 AM
RandyL 31 Jan 22 - 08:45 PM
Reinhard 31 Jan 22 - 06:27 PM
RandyL 31 Jan 22 - 05:46 PM
RandyL 31 Jan 22 - 01:19 PM
Thompson 31 Jan 22 - 01:34 AM
RandyL 31 Jan 22 - 12:42 AM
GUEST,Randy 28 Jan 22 - 08:14 PM
Lighter 27 Jul 19 - 07:42 PM
Jim Dixon 27 Jul 19 - 04:13 PM
Lighter 21 Jul 19 - 12:07 PM
Lighter 26 Nov 17 - 09:45 AM
Jim Carroll 26 Nov 17 - 04:28 AM
Jim Dixon 25 Nov 17 - 09:38 PM
Jack Campin 15 Nov 17 - 12:05 PM
Jack Campin 06 Mar 17 - 08:40 AM
Thompson 06 Mar 17 - 06:39 AM
Big Ballad Singer 11 Jul 11 - 08:06 PM
Jack Campin 11 Jul 11 - 05:26 PM
GUEST 11 Jul 11 - 02:32 PM
Jack Campin 26 Nov 10 - 06:39 PM
Jim Dixon 20 Dec 09 - 11:56 PM
An Buachaill Caol Dubh 17 Jul 09 - 11:44 AM
MartinRyan 16 Jul 09 - 02:41 PM
MartinRyan 16 Jul 09 - 02:00 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 16 Jul 09 - 01:15 PM
MartinRyan 16 Jul 09 - 12:30 PM
An Buachaill Caol Dubh 16 Jul 09 - 12:28 PM
GUEST,JTT 16 Jul 09 - 11:06 AM
Fiolar 16 Jul 09 - 08:06 AM
MartinRyan 16 Jul 09 - 02:25 AM
GUEST,JTT 15 Jul 09 - 07:09 PM
GUEST,JTT 15 Jul 09 - 07:07 PM
ard mhacha 15 Jul 09 - 04:40 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 15 Jul 09 - 02:14 PM
ard mhacha 15 Jul 09 - 01:25 PM
MartinRyan 15 Jul 09 - 08:15 AM
MartinRyan 15 Jul 09 - 03:49 AM
Matthew Edwards 14 Jul 09 - 07:44 PM
MartinRyan 14 Jul 09 - 06:49 PM
Matthew Edwards 14 Jul 09 - 05:27 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 14 Jul 09 - 03:02 PM
An Buachaill Caol Dubh 14 Jul 09 - 02:39 PM
MartinRyan 14 Jul 09 - 08:33 AM
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Subject: RE: Lyr ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: Lighter
Date: 11 May 24 - 08:48 AM

Not all Scots wrote in the dialect of Burns.

One who didn't, Sir Walter Scott, wrote "The Lay of the Last Minstrel" (1805).

Scott's long poem tells the story of an ancient harper who's seen better days. It was wildly popular, and Ritchie must have been familiar with it.


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Subject: RE: Lyr ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 11 May 24 - 03:41 AM

Whether or not a Scot named Ritchie was responsible for one version of the words, the usual set strikes me as Romantic 19th century English. That style is clearly there in three of the first five words: "Oh list to the lay".


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Subject: RE: Lyr ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: Lighter
Date: 09 May 24 - 09:35 AM

In '09 Jim Dixon posted the text from "Whistle-Binkie" (1878).

That book was published earlier in Glasgow in 1853. It is a very substantial literary anthology of over 900 pages, with extensive biographies of many of the contributors. Unfortunately, Ritchie - the author of "The Bard of Armagh" indicated in the 1847 "National Songster," isn't one of them.

However, "Whistle-Binkie" credits it to a different Ritchie. Maddeningly, the book presents his (or her) name not in print but as a facsimile of his signature! The first name is hard to read, but it looks to me like "Alexander A."

/mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=11606&messages=86&page=1&desc=yes

A brief biography of this Ritchie appears in Charles Rogers' "The Modern Scottish Minstrel," Vol. IV, 1857. Born in Edinburgh in 1816 Alexander A. Ritchie became a successful painter, recognized by the Scottish Academy, of Romantic and local Edinburgh scenes.

He also penned a ballad-influenced song, "The Wells o' Wearie," to the tune of "The Bonnie House of Airlie."

Ritchie died in 1850 at the age of thirty-four.


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Subject: RE: Lyr ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: GUEST,Steve Shaw
Date: 09 May 24 - 06:18 AM

The John McCormack 1933 version is the one I know too. It's lovely.


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Subject: RE: Lyr ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: GUEST
Date: 09 May 24 - 04:26 AM

I had a with my group Bravehearts about what song to sing. I was determined i would sing Streets of Laredo and my friend martin heard half barifs from another song Road and the Miles to Dundee like what others have said on the Bard of Armargh the recording I had of that song was by John Macormac recorded in 1933. After spliting up my band every where i sing i always preform streets of Laredo cos thats my favourite song and most folks know it, from Joe.


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Subject: RE: Lyr ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 01 Feb 22 - 06:40 AM

Thompson is perfectly correct about "lay." Let's lay that one to rest...


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Subject: RE: Lyr ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: RandyL
Date: 01 Feb 22 - 01:07 AM

https://youtu.be/W07SXadlFyU


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Subject: RE: Lyr ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: RandyL
Date: 31 Jan 22 - 08:45 PM

THE BARD OF ARMAGH
                         (original)
O LIST to the lay of a poor Irish harper,
And scorn not the strings for his old wither'd hand;
Remember his fingers once could move sharper,
To raise the merry strains of his dear land.
Twas long before the shamrock, our green isle's love-
ly emblem,
Was crush'd in its beauty neath the Saxon lion's
paw,
I was call'd by the *colleens, around me assembling
Their Bould Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh !

Ah,how I love to muse on the days of my boyhood,
Tho' fourscore and three years have flitted since
   then
Still it gives sweet reflection,as every young joy
should,
For the merry-hearted boys make the best of old
men.
At the fair or the wake I could twirl my shillelah,
Or trip through the jig in my brogs bound with
straw;
Sure all the purty maids in the village or the valley
Lov'd Bould Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh.
Now tho' I've wandered this wide world over,
It's Ireland is my home and a parent to me;
Then, O!let the turf that my old bones shall cover
Be cut from the ground that is trod by the free.
And when serjeant Death in his cold arms shall em-
brace me,
Low lull me asleepwith " Erin go Bragh,"
By the side of my Kathleen, my young wife,oh place
me,
Then forget Phelim Brady


* the colleens were Scotch-Irish: Scottish settlers continued to come to Ireland to immigrate to the American colonies.


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Subject: RE: Lyr ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: Reinhard
Date: 31 Jan 22 - 06:27 PM

RandyL, lay as in lay preacher is an adjective, not a noun, and thus doesn't fit here where it is "the lay of", not "the lay harper".

The Traditional Ballad Index entry for this song, as posted above by Joe in 2004, quotes in the description: "List to the tale of a poor Irish harper".


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Subject: RE: Lyr ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: RandyL
Date: 31 Jan 22 - 05:46 PM

lay: not ordained into or belonging to the clergy (a lay preacher)


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Subject: RE: Lyr ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: RandyL
Date: 31 Jan 22 - 01:19 PM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIBaKobX


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Subject: RE: Lyr ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: Thompson
Date: 31 Jan 22 - 01:34 AM

List to the lay of a poor Irish harper.
Lay: A narrative poem.


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Subject: RE: Lyr ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: RandyL
Date: 31 Jan 22 - 12:42 AM

In 1847 the original "The Bard Of Armagh" was published on pages 437/438 of the National Songster. the first line states he's laid to rest in the fashion of an Irish passing "O list the lay or a poor Irish harper" that means a horizontal position.


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Subject: RE: Lyr ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: GUEST,Randy
Date: 28 Jan 22 - 08:14 PM

His tombstone at Desertcreat says Phelim Brady. Go to youtube and in the search bar type: The Bard of Armagh Desertcreat Church.


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Subject: RE: Lyr ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: Lighter
Date: 27 Jul 19 - 07:42 PM

The title page of the hefty, anonymously compiled 1847 songster Jim discovered describes its contents as "Original and Select."

Ritchie's lyrics (no tune is indicated) are marked as "Original."

Since this seems to be the earliest discovered printing, there seems little reason not to attribute the words to J. L. Ritchie.

I've found no further information about him.


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Subject: RE: Lyr ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 27 Jul 19 - 04:13 PM

Here is the page Lighter was referring to:

Irish Country Songs edited by Herbert Hughes (New York, Toronto & London: Boosey & Co., 1909), vol. 2 page 1. It includes notation for voice and piano with an abbreviated version of the lyrics, comprising only half the lines given above.


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Subject: RE: Lyr ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: Lighter
Date: 21 Jul 19 - 12:07 PM

refresh


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: Lighter
Date: 26 Nov 17 - 09:45 AM

Jack, "The Bard of Armagh" is the first song in Hughes's second volume, and is "copyright 1914."

He says nothing about it other than associating it with County Tyrone.


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Nov 17 - 04:28 AM

"it was commonly used in England and Scotland before there is any record it in Ireland."
“The Venerable Bede reported cattlemen passing around a harp and singing 'vain and idle songs'.”
[R J Page Life in Anglo-Saxon England}
Jim Carroll


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE BARD OF ARMAGH (Ritchie, 1847)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 25 Nov 17 - 09:38 PM

From The National Songster; a Collection of Scotch, English, and Irish Standard and Popular Songs (Glasgow: Francis Orr and Sons, 1847), page 437:

THE BARD OF ARMAGH
J. L. Ritchie.

O list to the lay of a poor Irish harper,
And scorn not the strings for his old wither'd hand;
Remember his fingers once could move sharper,
To raise the merry strains of his dear native land.
'Twas long before the shamrock, our green isle's lovely emblem,
Was crush'd in its beauty 'neath the Saxon lion's paw,
I was call'd by the coleens, around me assembling,
Their Bould Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh!

Ah, how I love to muse on the days of my boyhood,
Tho' fourscore and three years have flitted since then
Still it gives sweet reflection, as every young joy should,
For the merry-hearted boys make the best of old men.
At the fair or the wake I could twirl my shillelah,
Or trip through the jig in my brogs bound with straw;
Sure all the purty maids in the village or the valley
Lov'd Bould Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh.

Now tho' I've wandered this wide world over,
It's Ireland is my home and a parent to me;
Then, O! let the turf that my old bones shall cover
Be cut from the ground that is trod by the free.
And when serjeant Death in his cold arms shall embrace me,
Low lull me asleep with "Erin go Bragh,"
By the side of my Kathleen, my young wife, oh place me,
Then forget Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh.


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: Jack Campin
Date: 15 Nov 17 - 12:05 PM

To add to that: I haven't seen Hughes's collection (which, via John McCormack, seems to be the origin of all currently sung versions) - what does he say about the tune? Had he personally collected it from tradition, or from some earlier printed source? We seem to have a gap of about 100 years between when Campbell wrote it and when Hughes classed it as a "country song".


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Mar 17 - 08:40 AM

Have you actually seen an early Irish harp, like the one in Trinity College Dublin or those in the National Museum of Scotland? They are nothing like a revival-era folk harp, and weigh several times as much - the frame is a great big lump of oak, you would not take it anywhere without a horse or cart.

We know a lot about the tune, back to around 1700; there is nothing "typically Irish" about it since it was commonly used in England and Scotland before there is any record it in Ireland. It's obvious where Campbell got it - Burns made it hugely popular and it had been reprinted and circulated many times all over the British Isles. Broadside publishers didn't need to print the tune: they'd just name it, as "Banks of the Devon" - any literate singer from Cork to Lerwick would know what was intended. (Burns was first published in Ireland in 1787).

A harp would be no sort of disguise at all. There were very few harpists at any time and anybody who knew anything could name every one they were likely to encounter. And if any priest actually managed to learn the harp well enough to pass as a pro, we'd know about it.

I have an early edition of Campbell's poems where the editor says who Campbell actually had in mind - an Irish exile from the 1798 rising who he knew in Germany. No 17th century bishops involved.

There can't be many songs with such a well documented origin which so many ideologues are determined to ignore.


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: Thompson
Date: 06 Mar 17 - 06:39 AM

The idea that a priest wouldn't hump a harp around is predicated on the harp being the modern concert harp - that would be unlikely all right - rather than the small metal-stringed harp used by earlier Irish musicians. Like Carolan, Bishop Donnelly is said to have been an itinerant musician; the harp was a good disguise for a priest, since only two bishops were left alive in Ireland at the time by the raging anti-'Papist' English who were determined to wipe out both Catholicism and Irishness.
The tune is typically Irish - typically northern, even; the words are typically 19th-century, but also, I think, typical of the softening and simplifying of more complex and intellectual verse of the previous century in Irish.
The fact that the story comes to us from béaloideas rather than being written down by scholars does not make it untrue; how many stories of today's South Sudan massacres will be lost if only the ones typed up by journalists or in UN reports are later believed?


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: Big Ballad Singer
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 08:06 PM

Beautiful song, lovely lyrics, I think.

No offense, Big Tim, but Tommy Makem did not take "to calling himself the 'Bard of Armagh'". He was nicknamed that for his stellar and absolutely critical work in maintaining, preserving and performing songs, poetry and stories from Ireland's historic past. Without the work of Tommy Makem, the modern world of folk and popular music would be much poorer today, as Mr. Makem was successful on the popular music scene on a level which a lot of other folk performers have never reached. His career as a veritable catalog of Irish music and fable have been critical to the spread of Irish culture around the world.

I believe he, if no one else in the modern era, deserves rightly to be called the Bard of Armagh.


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: Jack Campin
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 05:26 PM

You're shooting from the hip.

There has been a lot written here about all those songs. Look back through this thread and the related ones.


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 02:32 PM

I didn't know this song very well until I went to the shops and found a John McCormac CD and found that the tune is the same as 'The Cowboy's Lament', otherwise known as 'Streets of Laredo', a song I prefer to sing. In the story of the Irish song some folks say that 'The Bard of Armagh' was a Gallic song which the words were mabye sung but not to this tune. This tune has about 19 or 20 difrent songs sung by different singers from the 1900s to just now in folk music. In the first two decades of the 20th century about 19 singers were singing one morning in May and 'The Bard of Armagh' and 'The Unfortunate Rake'. This is enough for a CD to be made but it would be quite hard to do. This recording of all different singers singing the same tune but the words, well, might be be 'Marty Robbins' or 'Hank Snow' singing the 'Streets of Laredo' and also John McCormack singing 'The Bard of Armagh'. Such a CD would help me decide on my favourite, or the best. Other songs like 'Battle Hymn of the Republic', 'Londonderry Air' (better remembered as 'Danny Boy', many others should do the same thing. When i first heard this song from Ireland I was quite angry about that arguments of what came first on Jon Kavanah's review of 'The Unfortunate Rake' on Songlines!


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: Jack Campin
Date: 26 Nov 10 - 06:39 PM

The song is printed in Campbell's collected poems (which are all in a similar bombastic style - even though I could once have bought a copy for 3 quid, I passed). It's easy enough to date when he wrote it - he was in Germany at the time. He had never been to Ireland at that point (not sure if he ever did) - born in the west of Scotland and educated in Edinburgh.

Thomas Campbell on Wikipedia

The tune is "The Banks of the Devon", a mega-hit of the time thanks to Burns's words for it. Burns got it on his one and only visit to the Highlands (I think it's the only tune he collected there) and he found it used for a Gaelic Jacobite song on the '45, which unusually for such songs was written fairly near the time of the events it describes. So the tune is Scottish and must have been around in the middle of the 18th century.

"Banks of the Devon" was used for a lot of broadsides. One much better than "The Bard of Armagh", though very little known, is a song that sympathizes with the French prisoners of the Napoleonic War interned near Edinburgh. I think John Leyden wrote it, but the author stayed anonymous.

Esk Mill


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE BARD OF ARMAGH (A A Ritchie)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 11:56 PM

From Whistle-Binkie: or, the Piper of the Party, Volume 2 edited by John Donald Carrick, Alexander Rodger, David Robertson (Glasgow: David Robertson & Co., 1878), page 285:


THE BARD OF ARMAGH.
Alex. A. Ritchie
Air—" The Exile of Erin."

Oh! list to the lay of a poor Irish Harper,
Though wayward and fitful his old withered hand;
Remember his touch once was bolder and sharper,
When raising the strains of his dear native land.
Long before the shamrock, our isle's lovely emblem,
Was crush'd in its bloom 'neath the Saxon lion's paw,
I was called by the coleens around me assembling,
Their bold Phelim Brady, the bard of Armagh!

Oh! how I love to muse on the days of my boyhood,
Tho' fourscore and three years have flitted since then!
Still it gives sweet reflection, as ev'ry first joy should,
For free-hearted boys make the best of ould men.
At the fair or the wake I could twirl my shillelah,
Or trip through the jig in my brogues bound wi' straw;
Faith, all the pretty girls in the village and the valley
Loved bould Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh!

Now tho' I have wander'd this wide world over,
Still Ireland's my home and a parent to me;
Then O! let the turf that my bosom shall cover,
Be cut from the ground that is trod by the free!
And when in his cold arms Death shall embrace me,
Och! lull me asleep wid sweet Erin go Bragh!
By the side of my Kathlin, my first love, O! place me;
She loved Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh.


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: An Buachaill Caol Dubh
Date: 17 Jul 09 - 11:44 AM

It's not a Scottish version, except that the name of the author (or, at least person to whom it is ascribed) is "A Ritchie"; in looking through the book in a second-hand bookshop, I found this song (words only) among others, and being familiar with the three-verse Herbert Hughes arrangement and also a longer set of words published in "The Capuchin Annual" of 1974, I remember being struck by the differences I found. In particular, the very last lines about laying him down by the side of his young wife stay in my mind, since in McCormack's 1920 version (I can't access the clip from GUESTJTT above, so I don't know which it is) he does make a significant pause in the final words, "Then... forget Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh" and so I was certain that the version in the antiquarian book did indeed differ, and was, in my view, inferior to that with which I was familiar. Now, would anyone really prefer "She loved Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh" to "Then forget Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh"? This leads me to the deduction that A Ritchie was the maker of the original version, which others have refined and polished. But, who knows? The book was quite dear, and I didn't buy it.


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: MartinRyan
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 02:41 PM

ABCD

Have you details of the Scottish version you mentioned, back in August 2006?

Regards


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: MartinRyan
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 02:00 PM

So, in summary so far, we have:
- a story said to relate the song to 17/18th. C. real life characters. We don't have an idea of how long that story is around.
- 19 C. ballad sheets
- Herbert Hughes arrangement at the beginning of the 20th. C. Haven't yet seen his comments, if any. May well be the main source of modern singing of the song - particularly as a parlour song.
- Padraigín's indirect report of Mrs. Humphrey's claim of a version in Gaelic. It would be nice to have more detail on this. Such claims are often made by English speakers without direct knowledge of the language and its song repertoire. This does not appear to be the case here.

Regards


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 01:15 PM

Song sheet producers on both sides of the Atlantic shipped copies across; sheets produced in England turn up in American collections and v. v. A few transplants became popular, many didn't.
"The Bard ..." is not known in America, although Irish nostalgia and complaints were the subject of many song sheets produced in America.
It seems "The Bard..." never entered the 'folk' realm.

The connections of "Laredo," "Unfortunate," etc., pointed out by MartinRyan, have been more than amply covered in other threads.


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: MartinRyan
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 12:30 PM

Fiolar
Yeah - that connection, through The Unfortunate Rake (Lock Hospital and lots of other names)is well known. I don't think there's any evidence of The Bard turning up in America.

Regards


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: An Buachaill Caol Dubh
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 12:28 PM

In addition to "The Streets of Laredo", there are to my ear anyway some similarities with the familiar "Road and the miles to Dundee" (and compare "Sweet Carnlough Bay"). Having read GUESTJTT's suggestion about "The Jail of Clonmel"/"Priosun Cluain Meala", I can now recognise some similarities, too, but not that strong.


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 11:06 AM

Maybe not - here's
John McCormack singing The Bard of Armagh , and Luke Kelly singing an English version of Priosún Cluain Meala


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: Fiolar
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 08:06 AM

Funny enough regarding similar tunes but different words than "The Bard", I believe that "The Streets of Laredo" has the same air.


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: MartinRyan
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 02:25 AM

Hoagland's 1000 Years of Irish Poetry referenced in the Traditional Ballad Index earlier, adds no detail other than calling it a traditional street ballad and defining the term "pattern".

Regards
p.s. In my sleepy head at this hour of the morning, Priosún Cluain Meala is not all that similar in tune? It's an interesting thought, though.


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 07:09 PM

Incidentally, that translation is distinctly freehand - no tormenting of cattle in the version in Irish.


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 07:07 PM

Priosún Cluain Meala is sung to the same tune, and is on a similar theme, though there the youth awaiting execution is remembering his days on the hurling field and feats in hunting, as far as I recall the words. Here's a midi on a site with a bit about it: http://www.irishpage.com/songs/clonmel.htm


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: ard mhacha
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 04:40 PM

Q, Of course it is a romanticised version of the life of Donnelly, I don`t believe for a moment that many an Irish person would be taken in by the lyrics of the song.
When Dawson and his `hang drawn and quarter` brigade were chasing Donnelly and his fellow priests around the country the last thing the priest would have been doing was humping a harp around.


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 02:14 PM

The 19th century saw many songs, screeds, books, and articles about Ireland and its struggles, and its early history and legends, much romanticized and treated as fact rather than legend.
The "Bard of Armagh" seems to be of that time; its language is of that time.
Any relationship to the time of Donnelly is dubious.

An interesting book for young readers, published in 1886, was one of many keeping the old stories alive.
"Young People's History of Ireland," by George Makepeace Towle, one of the 'romantic' historians of the time, published in Boston.

From his Introduction-
To justify her oppression, England has resorted to a system of misrepresentation and misreport. Irish antiquities have been doubted and belittled. --- The ancient history of Ireland has been set down as unreliable, mythical, - a story born of Celtic pride, imagination and passion." .....................
"Yet the student who turns to the history of Ireland finds at a glance that he has entered an original and authentic region, on a study not only national but racial. ......... of music, coming down from pre-historic times, and still sung by peasant girls and played by the wandering minstrels; ......."

The history and legends of Scotland were treated in much the same way.


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: ard mhacha
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 01:25 PM

From an article in the Seanchas Ardmhacha 1958,
Patrick Donnelly was born in 1649 in the parish of Desertcreat County Tyrone. He was ordained by Oliver Plunkett.
The conclusion of the article confirms that Bishop Donnelly ended his days in the south Armagh area,

   Dr Donnelly remained on in his cabin at the foot of Slieve Gullion in County Armagh until he died in 1716, his body was brought back at night to his to his native Desertcreat in County Tyrone where he was buried.


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: MartinRyan
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 08:15 AM

Click here for a shot of a broadsheet copy in the Irish Traditional Music Archive.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: MartinRyan
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 03:49 AM

Thanks for that, Matthew - I'd missed the Contents and Review button on that page!

Regards


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 07:44 PM

The fuller story of Mrs Humphrey's claim that she knew a Gaelic version of The Bard of Armagh is told in the Newry Journal website, but no source is given; Pádraigín only mentions the claim in passing in her book on p.397, but in a footnote she refers to an article, 'Pathways of Stone', by Hugh Murphy in The Ring of Gullion, Cottage Publications, 2001.

I agree it would be wise to be cautious about the existence of an earlier Gaelic version, particularly since no such song was actually collected at the time, and it is very unlikely to turn up now. But an examination of Ó Muirí's papers might well be worthwhile.

I think that the Herbert Hughes arrangement of The Bard of Armagh was in Volume Two of his Irish Country Songs (Click on the 'Contents and Reviews' button on the page for a drop down menu listing the songs.)

A Hidden Ulster is a really well researched book, resurrecting a once vigourous culture. Her portraits of the singers and collectors are written with real understanding. She explains the contexts of the songs in the lives of the people who sang them with great insight. Even though I struggle with the Gaelic, the book is well worth persevering with.

Matthew Edwards


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: MartinRyan
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 06:49 PM

What else is out there in hiding?
Don't ask me - I'm not a shrink! ;>)}

More seriously: as I type, a signed copy of Padraigín's book is on a shelf behind me! To my shame, I haven't yet read it - bar dipping in for a specific or two on Gaelic songs. I'll read what she says about The Bard. Does she identify the song in Irish mentioned by Mrs. Humphrey's? Claims of Gaelic predecessors of well known songs always need to be treated with caution, of course (as in all transitional cultures, I reckon).

Regards


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 05:27 PM

There is an account given on the Newry Journal website, and in Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin's book A Hidden Ulster; People, songs and traditions of Oriel that The Bard of Armagh may be based on a lost Irish language song.

Sarah Humphreys, who died about 1918, of the townland of Doctor's Quarter, Lislea, Killeavy, County Armagh was the last Irish language speaker in that area. Many collectors came to see her to gather her rich store of religious and seasonal songs, but she chased them away if she felt they lacked respect. Apparently she told one collector, Fr. Larry Murray (Lorcán Ó Muirí), that English language song of The Bard of Armagh was "mere doggerel...a poor, unworthy and senseless imitation" of a Gaelic song, sung to the same air, which she had known in her youth.

The townland of Doctor's Quarter, where Mrs Humphreys lived, was so named for having sheltered the Bishop of Armagh, Dr Patrick Donnelly, after the 1697 Suppression Of Popery Act. Indeed the house in which she lived was reputed to be the same house which had sheltered the disguised bishop two centuries earlier.

See:- Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin, A Hidden Ulster; People, songs and traditions of Oriel, Dublin, Four Courts Press, 2005. pp.394-397

Incidentally, what is it with all this recent "hidden" Ireland stuff? Besides this 'Hidden Ulster', I've had CDs and a book of 'Hidden Fermanagh', and another CD of 'Leitrim's Hidden Treasure'. What else is out there in hiding?

Matthew Edwards


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 03:02 PM

Agreed, Martin. Seems to be a 19th c. product. It may show up in some literary journal like Blackwoods, Gentleman's, etc.
Putting old history or tales into poems was common.


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: An Buachaill Caol Dubh
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 02:39 PM

Re. the text being very stable (I agree, incidentally!), there is one other verse which I've seen in several printed sources - all of these being of the popular "50 best Irish Songs" variety - which seems a later interpolation intended to localise the song in a particular time, though in a place rather remote from Armagh:

"When I was a young lad, King Jamie did flourish;
With my harp owre my shoulder I followed the war:
I was known in every glenside from Wexford to Durris
As the bould Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh."


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: MartinRyan
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 08:33 AM

As mentioned in my earlier post and referenced in the link, this is the traditional account of the story. How true it may be is hard to judge in the absence of evidence about the origins of the song.

The tone just seems very literary - more so than the usual run of broadside ballad material IMHO. Yet I've not seen any other printed source - and I've seen lots of 19C. collections, primary and secondary. On the other hand, it doesn't sound like something that's been "in the mouths of the people" for generations - which tends to have a wearing effect, as we know! With the exception of the verse that drops in and out, the text seems very stable.

So what are its origins? I'll have a look in Hughes's books to see what, if anything, he says - but I may not have a chance for a few weeks at least.

Regards


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